Dignity at Work

Introduction and Background

This policy forms part of Ashford & St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to create a positive culture of respect for all individuals including staff, patients, their families and carers as well as community partners. The Trust’s values (the ‘4P’s’) and Staff Pledge are integral to all aspects of day-to-day life in the organisation and underpin the application of all our employment policies and procedures.

Ashford & St. Peter’s wishes to ensure that all staff are treated with dignity and respect, and there is a working environment free from harassment and bullying. Harassment and bullying will not be tolerated at any level.



  • Bullying may be defined as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” ACAS ( Bullying and Harassment at Work)
  • Harassment is defined as “any conduct based on age, gender, pregnancy or maternity, marriage or civil partnership, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, HIV status, race, religion, or belief political, trades union or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a minority, domestic, circumstances, property, birth or other status, which is unreciprocated or unwanted and which affects the dignity of men and women at work” (Agenda for Change Terms and Conditions Handbook 2012).
  • Victimisation is defined as “Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act; or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint.” - ACAS (The Equality Act – What’s new for employers).

With cases of potential bullying and/or harassment, the conduct may be persistent or may be an isolated incident. In all cases it is for the recipient to define what constitutes inappropriate behaviour.


Purpose and Principles

This statement of policy sets out means by which individuals can seek redress if they believe that they are the subject of harassment, bullying or victimisation in the workplace. In addition, it ensures that the Trust meets its legal and ethical obligations.

  • The Trust recognises the adverse effects that harassment and bullying can have on individuals. It also recognises that poor working relationships are potentially harmful to the recipients of our service.
  • All issues will be dealt with sensitively and confidentially.
  • Not all acts of harassment or bullying are intentional. What is important is how the action is perceived.
  • Victimisation as a result of making a complaint or giving evidence will not be tolerated.
  • Those making a complaint and those who are the subject of a complaint are entitled to be accompanied by a union representative or work colleague.
  • Staff who become aware of other staff being subjected to harassment or bullying should bring the matter to the attention of their line manager or Human Resources professional.
  • The Trust wholeheartedly supports and will co-operate fully with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex and London Postgraduate Deaneries statements on Bullying and Intimidation in Post Graduate Medical Education, which applies to doctors in training and the University of Surrey Harassment policy, as it applies to nursing and midwifery students.
  • The statement applies to all staff, contractors and employees of other organisations who are on site, volunteers, visitors and patients at the point of service delivery.
  • ‘At work’ includes off-site locations where work is carried out or any place where NHS care is delivered. It also includes any special events linked to employment, for example, conferences and work related social events.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Human Resources Department
Ratified by: Trust Board
Date Ratified: November 2014
Date Issued: December 2014
Review Date: November 2017
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Deputy Director of Human Resources


See also:

  • Disciplinary Policy
  • Single Equality Scheme
  • Grievance Policy
  • Whistle Blowing Policy
  • Appeals Procedure
  • Learning, Education and Development Policy